Week 1 of the NA VCT Main Event was extremely entertaining with stylish plays and surprises throughout the way. But what do we need to keep in mind while heading into Week 2?
As week one has finally come to a close of the Closed Group Stage of NA Challengers, there have been a few surprises and upsets, such as newly-rebranded OpTic Gaming (formerly known as Envy) losing a close-fought series 2-1 against the streaky Rise team. We also saw NRG giving North American favorites Sentinels a scare as they lost the contested series 2-1.
Here’s what Challengers has in store! Who ya got winning this week’s matchups?
— VALORANT Champions Tour (@ValorantEsports) February 14, 2022
What’s in store for us as we head into Week 2 of the NA VCT Main event?
100 Thieves’ New Roster Faces an Important Crossroads.
100 Thieves had a significant roster overhaul during the offseason, where we saw “nitr0” return to CSGO, rejoining Team Liquid. They decided to recruit former Faze Clan member “BabyJ” as nitr0’s replacement. Another change was the IGL position for 100T, where “steel” was transferred to T1 and the former British IGL “ec1s” replacing him. The organization maintained the core of superstar teenager “Asuna”, “Ethan” , and “Hiko”.
The move to sign ec1s surprised many, as 100 Thieves were the first team to officially import a European player into the North American region. After 100 Thieves’ shortcomings from the last VCT season, where they failed to qualify for Valorant Champions 2021, this new roster has had a lot of expectations coming into NA VCT Challengers 1.
It is easy to put a bust label on this iteration of 100 Thieves after their loss against Cloud9, but we must consider that this is the same Cloud9 roster that made a strong Champions run three months ago. The raw skill and talent of this 100 Thieves roster can match many of the top teams in the world, but they need to find a solution as soon as possible if they aim to represent North America in Masters 1. If 100 Thieves fall short in Challengers 1, it may be time to go back to the drawing board and use the off-time to practice and give ec1s more time figuring out the roster as a whole.
Can Trent and The Guard Continue their Hot Streak to the Playoffs?
All of North America should be excited about the potential of this team. This iteration of The Guard formed during the offseason before Challengers 1. The most significant addition to this roster has to be Trent “trent” Cairns. Many people overlooked a roster change; the seventeen-year-old has exploded onto the VCT scene. Another notable addition to the roster was the transfer of Ha “sayaplayer” Jeong-woo from T1. Sayaplayer’s recent excellent performance is a continuous trend for former T1 players, where we also got to see Austin “crashies” Roberts and Victor “Victor” Wong blossom under their new organization. The rest of the roster consists of Michael “neT” Bernet, Jonah “JonahP” Pulice, and IGL Jacob “valyn” Baito.
The future is bright for this young roster as they are now put under the spotlight for millions to see. With rising expectations for The Guard, making the playoffs is now expected for trent and his squad. As we move closer to the playoff stage, it will be an exciting prospect if they make it to Masters 1 and show their talents on the international stage. But first, The Guard has to aim their sights on taking down the reformed 100 Thieves roster on Sunday, February 20th. If they manage to take down the former giants, they are well on their way to securing a playoffs spot and representing North America in Masters 1. North American enthusiasts rejoice.
A Revitalized Sentinels? Or the same Team that Failed to Impress on the Biggest Stage?
Where were you when North America ruled the VCT scene? We all remember Sentinels claiming the first international title for North America after sweeping Fnatic 3-0. We all remember Tyson “TenZ” Ngo saying that this “was the best team I’ve ever played in” and that they were open to any team challenging them for the title of “best team in the world.” After that moment, it has been nothing but disappointment for Sentinels.
After the Masters win, we witnessed the slow and continuous regression of this Sentinels roster throughout the 2021 season. This regression is not necessarily the roster’s fault; other teams and regions (especially EMEA) got better and progressed faster as a whole.
This left many fans wondering, will Sentinels shake up their winning roster? There were unconfirmed rumors of a roster shuffle, but we knew the boys in red would run it back for 2022.
Despite a not-so-perfect start to the Sentinels 2022 VCT run, they still show that they are North America’s team to beat. Sentinels will play Knights on Friday, February 18th.